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My Blues Fingerpicking rant


BluesKing777

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I would like to thank everyone for their wonderful replies about my blues videos that I posted. I shall also thank the people from the Acoustic forum for all their advice about Gibsons.

 

A few people have complimented me on my technique, so I'm going to spill how I acquired said technique for those who want to progress. I still feel like an experienced beginner after all these years of trying - it has taken a long time.

 

I have not been fortunate enough to take guitar lessons from some blues pioneer.

 

I've not been hanging around crossroads in the Delta at midnight with my thumbs crossed in my left ear and covered in garlic and horseradish cream after having my toenails impaled.....

 

I have no affiliation with Stefan, but if I ever run into him I'm going to hug him. The Stefan Grossman Guitar Workshop blues dvd lessons are fabulous. I eventually want to own ALL of them. From the early days of trying to figure out Stefan's strange book with 'chord photos' up to the 'How to Play Blues DVD's' is a huge leap. Sitting at home watching a dvd lesson is incredible.

 

So, a huge thanks to Stefan, then Ernie Hawkins, and all the crew at SGGW. Stefan deserves a Grammy or some award, perhaps a Nobel Peace Prize! Stefan for President!!!!

 

Sometimes it's hard to know what to do with all the Grossman stuff, so there are other dvd's from Kenny Sultan, Steve James, Mike Dowling, Mary Flower, David Hamburger, and on the list goes. All are a huge help in putting things together.

 

Also: Endless guitar practice and endless patience from the other half, Sandi!!! And three or four more lifetimes that are needed to learn Lightning, Gary Davis, Hurt, etc.

 

The next very important step for me was buying a Gibson acoustic. I think the sound plus neck spacing of my J45 and Blues King have allowed me to play blues (and other styles) closer to what I hear in my head.

I own a roomful of guitars that are great, but my Gibsons have the Blues! (and country).

Hope this helps some other players to go forward a bit.

 

Regards

BK.

 

P.S. Steve James has an article in Acoustic Guitar magazine.

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I like your playing and your blues has heart and inventiveness, it's not the least bit cheesy! One comment though, is that I think if you loosened up your right hand you'd see a marked improvement in tone and ability. I've been fingerpicking for a while now, and that was one of the hurdles I had to overcome to reach another level of playing, hopefully it'll help you too!

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I like your playing and your blues has heart and inventiveness, it's not the least bit cheesy! One comment though, is that I think if you loosened up your right hand you'd see a marked improvement in tone and ability. I've been fingerpicking for a while now, and that was one of the hurdles I had to overcome to reach another level of playing, hopefully it'll help you too!

 

Thanks for reply. What did you do to 'loosen up your right hand'? I'm not totally clear what you mean, and I am glad for any advice.

Do you mean like when Kenny Sultan says to play 'dirtier' like Lightning Hopkins by brushing more strings instead of articulating them exactly, or do you mean something else?

Hope to hear back from you soon.

 

Regards

BK.

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Well, I cant speak for Deadgrateful, but your RH looks stiff (rigid thumb, fingers drawn in. It needs to be loose and swinging. Ernie Hawkins says that Rev Davis (who knew a thing or two about pickin) kept his RH moving, picking some, brushing some, always in a relaxed, solid groove. In fact, you might need to put a little more energy into the thumb. Seems focused on the high strings. Hope that helps.

 

Gary Davis. Slow Drag

 

Ernie Hawkins, Slow Drag

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Well, I cant speak for Deadgrateful, but your RH looks stiff (rigid thumb, fingers drawn in. It needs to be loose and swinging. Ernie Hawkins says that Rev Davis (who knew a thing or two about pickin) kept his RH moving, picking some, brushing some, always in a relaxed, solid groove. In fact, you might need to put a little more energy into the thumb. Seems focused on the high strings. Hope that helps.

 

 

Yes, thanks Rambler. I appreciate that. A Steve James dvd I have has a very heavy thumb and sounds great. Well heavy everything really. I bet he breaks a lot of strings, while normally my strings die of old age and rust. Which probably highlights what you are saying.

 

I have Ernie's dvds on Gary Davis. Those ones are pretty sensational!

 

I have been drifting in and out of the Gary Davis stuff. I had heard a lot of his blues earlier on, but had never heard anything like Ernie's dvd of Davis Gospel.

I have been trying to play that 5th fret G chord in 'Oh Glory How Happy I Am' for quite a few years now, but still can't really do it, and it has put me off a bit. I think he is reaching for THAT chord on the freeze frame on the link to his video.

 

I have little bits and pieces of those Davis tunes worked out, but I don't think I can play a whole tune all the way through.

I shall start watching those Davis dvd's again - they are great viewing anyway! I would like to get Ernie's CAGED dvd's as well. Concentrating on the left hand might trick my right hand!

I think I see what you mean about the right hand.

 

Regards

BK.

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That G in Oh Glory is a stretch. It really shows how he thinks in terms of melody, not licks. For starting with Rev. Davis, it might go easier with numbers like Spoonful or Keep your Lamp Trimmed and Burning. Not that I did it that way, haw.

 

In general tho, getting the thumb going is key. Check Lightnin Hopkins!

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It's hard to say exactly, but your thumb looks like it could use a bit more fluidity if that makes any sense. Think of your thumb bass alternation as a fluid motion, even circular, rather than a rigid up and down type thing.

 

And when brushing over the chords try to keep you fingers a bit looser to, especially if you want to incorporate an upstroke at any point. I can think of two pieces that might illustrate my point that might be beneficial to learn. Anji By Davey Graham will really force you to swing those fingers when it comes to the chord strokes, even more so when played to speed. And playing Alice's Restaurant over and over and over again helped me to loosen up the thumb stokes when I started fingerpicking.

 

Obviously you have your own style, and it sounds really great so I'm not suggesting to divert too far or anything. Just a few little changes here and there!

 

Oh, and of course you need that J200!

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Never tried out any of the DVD lessons.

 

I guess I am one of the lucky ones because I did get to grab a few lessons with Rev. Davis. Other than that my biggest teacher were a slew of 78 rpm records a friend of my Dad's owned that I recorded onto a Roberts reel to reel. When I got the chance to move to Mississippi I jumped on it and was there when Ethel's and Junior's Place were still in full swing and you could catch R.L. playing on his porch.

 

I really got no advice or helpful hints to give you. As Bloommfield said if ya love those blues play 'em as you please. You can go dead thumb like Mance or scrap the steady rhythm and use your thumb to accent the melody and bass runs. You can use just your thumb and one finger or rely on every digit ya got. You can be a purist or throw in a dash of Chuck Berry or Grady Martin.

 

Its all good.

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Thanks everyone.

 

I know nothing beats a live teacher, except if he has no memory of who you are after attending for 6 months!

 

One advantage of the dvd lesson is that you can watch them again (and again and again), which after previous advice I am playing Ernie's Davis collection from the beginning. (While I am earning money on this computer, so I better give a quick reply and thanks to everyone!).

 

The last teacher I went to 5 or 6 years ago was great for jazzy pop?? and I have a collection of dog-eared scraps of paper he gave me which make no sense at all now! The dvd's have some relevant paperwork usually that you can return to.

 

A disadvantage of learning from a dvd is that you get no teacher feedback (Whack on the knuckles!), so for Deadgrateful, Rambler, Matthew Sear, Zombiewolf and others to take the time to watch, then comment is just incredibly fantastic.

 

Regards

BK

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nothing beats a live teacher.. the feedback..

 

True words. There used to be a club about an hour and half form me that got some world class acoustic players (Paul Geremia, Ed Gehrard, Frank Fotusky) in. $5 cover. Frank and Paul would give lessons before the gig.

 

 

Lawyers closed it down, charging the owner for royalties. Didnt anyone tell them that people go to gigs , hear songs and buy CDs? Killing the goose, yeh.

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